Oftentimes, a meth decontamination company is the second professional responder to a site believed to be contaminated by methamphetamine. In many instances, law enforcement, the local health department, and even a HAZMAT team will have been at the location, particularly if the site was the location of a meth lab. There are specific safety protocols that need to be followed when dealing with what is suspected to be a meth contamination site.

Proceed to Remediate a Meth Contaminated Site With All Due Diligence

An overarching reality when it comes to meth site safety protocols is that an area contaminated by methamphetamine must be remediated immediately. Any delay raises the potential for people being harmed as a result of a meth contaminated property. With that said, the need to commence with meth decontamination with all due diligence doesn’t obviate the need to implement proper safety protocols along the way.

Secure the Site Thoroughly

A crucial element of meth decontamination site safety is securing the premises. In other words, people need to be kept out of the site thought to be contaminated. The only people who should be permitted into the premises are law enforcement officials, representatives of the local health department, HAZMAT team members, and meth decontamination specialists. 

Attempt to Obtain Police of Health Department Report

A sometimes overlooked and sometimes unsuccessful initial step that should be taken when it comes to the matter of safety protocols and meth decontamination is obtaining a police or health department report associated with a site believed to be contaminated by meth. The reality is that obtaining a police report or health department report in a timely manner may prove impossible. Nonetheless, an attempt should be made to obtain such findings in advance of beginning a meth remediation effort. 

How to Deal With Unknown Containers

In addition to the dangers of meth residue itself, if a meth lab was operated at a site there can be remnants of other hazardous chemicals at the location as well. There may be containers that are left behind following the operation of a meth lab. If there are containers that contain unknown substances, great care must be taken to avoid unnecessarily disturbing these items. 

If there are containers containing unknown substances at a site, the need for intervention from a duly designated HAZMAT team may be the order of the day. A HAZMAT team can be called upon to remove this type of potentially hazardous items in advance of the commencement of meth decontamination to remove methamphetamine residue at the premises.

Maintain a Sharps Container at the Site

Sharps may be an issue at a property in need of meth decontamination. This can be the case if the location is suspected to be a meth lab or a property where meth was smoked (or both). For example, the possibility exists that at the location of a meth lab, a meth cook or others may use some of the product produced. They may inject the drug, leaving behind contaminated needles and syringes. These items need to be disposed of following specific protocols associated with biohazardous waste. Among these requirements is placing potentially contaminated sharps into an appropriate sharps container. 

Maintain a Biohazard Waste Container at the Site

As was discussed a moment ago in regard to a sharps container, there can be biohazard wastes at a meth contaminated site. For this reason, the need also exists for a biohazard waste disposal container at the location of suspected meth contamination. 

Minimum Personal Protective Equipment for Site Assessment

The minimum personal protective equipment, or PPE, needed to undertake a site assessment includes:

  • Nitrile gloves
  • Shoe covers
  • Dust mask or respirator
  • Disposable suit

Minimum Personal Protective Equipment for Meth Decontamination

The minimum PPE needed to undertake a meth decontamination includes:

  • Nitrile gloves
  • Full and half face mask respirators with acid/gas/vapor cartridges
  • Disposable coveralls
  • Work boots

Overview of HAZWOPER Training

Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training or HAZWOPER training is a specialized course of education for people who professionally deal with what is known as uncontrolled hazardous waste. Decontaminating a space that is contaminated with methamphetamine is an example of dealing with an uncontrolled hazardous waste.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers a 40-hour HAZWOPER course. OSHA also offers an eight hour refresher HAZWOPER course as well. The essential elements of HAZWOPER training include:

  • Medical surveillance
  • Hazard assessment
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Site control
  • Site characterization
  • Air quality monitoring
  • Hazard communication 
  • Decontamination
  • Lighting
  • Drum handling
  • Emergency response procedures

Safe Onsite Work Practices

Make a list of standing orders that are always used at a meth decontamination site. This list needs to always include:

  • No smoking inside the contaminated area
  • No eating inside the contaminated area
  • Must wear a respirator, gloves, and suit while performing any duties on work site
  • Place a lockout tag on any power source before performing work on the HVAC system or other electrical item
  • Make a list of site-specific hazards and review them with the team prior to beginning work (including such things as loose floorboards or an unsafe roof
  • Know the signs and how to prevent heat stress and heat stroke
  • Never put your hands where you cannot see
  • Have Naloxone on hand for opioid overdose 
  • Know where the closest emergency center to the job site 
  • Know the address of the property you are working on if you need to call 911 

By understanding and following these safety protocols, the risk of harm while involved in the inspection of a potential meth contamination site is significantly reduced. In addition, the hazards associated with meth decontamination are also lowered.